Liverpool and Celtic are a two-legged tie from returning to the Champions League group stages.
The draw for the playoff round took place on Friday morning and despite the fact that both British sides were seeded, there were still a few potentially awkward opponents to be navigated past.
Both sides were, however, seeded in the draw, which meant that that tough potential trips to the likes of Sevilla, Napoli and Olympiakos have been avoided.
Jurgen Klopp’s side return to the top table of European football after two seasons away from the competition and while they aren’t quite over the line yet, they will be favourites to progress when they come up against Bundesliga side Hoffenheim in a tie that sees Klopp return to Germany.
The Scottish champions, meanwhile, have already overcome Linfield and Rosenborg to progress to this stage, and manager Brendan Rodgers will be determined to return to the group stage again having reached that round in his first season at Celtic Park last year. Celtic have been drawn against Astana of Kazakhstan, whom they defeated in the qualifiers last season.
Champions League Playoff Round – Champions Route
Qarabag v FC Copenhagen
APOEL v Slavia Prague
Olympiakos v Rijeka
CELTIC v Astana
Hapoel Be’er Sheva v Maribor
Champions League Playoff Round – League Route
Istanbul Başakşehir v Sevilla
Young Boys BSC v CSKA Moscow
Napoli v Nice
Hoffenheim v LIVERPOOL
Sporting CP v Steaua Bucharest
The first leg ties will be played on the week of the 15th and 16th of August, with the return leg taking place the following week.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we look back at a dream week for Bohemians and those controversial Bray Wanderers statements, as well as the usual round-up of the latest League of Ireland action.
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